Little girls have long been taught that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that outward appearances are not what life should be about, and that women are worth so much more than what they put on in the morning or what they slip into at night.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and outward appearances are definitely not what life should be about. There are things that are far less trivial, such as, love, peace, family, health, and education. For Michelle Obama, the latter is exactly what people should be aiming towards, especially today, on International Day of the Girl– not boys, not looks, and certainly not blouses.
It’s the brain vs. beauty debacle all over again– and though girls (and boys) have been endlessly told for decades to refrain from zeroing in on appearances and to set their sights on more important things instead, it seems as though some major schooling is still desperately needed.
Two whole days after Melania Trump’s statement-making Gucci blouse came onto the scene, the country is still talking about it, still ranting about it, and still wondering whether or not her choice of clothing actually meant something significant. Or, if it was — as most of us suspect — merely an unhappy coincidence.
The speculation has gone so far over the top to have reached utter absurdity, prompting even CBS News’ Sopan Deb to have to take to Twitter to assure us that a Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the wardrobe choice was “not intentional.” Seriously?
C’mon, peeps, of course it was not intentional, because the fact that we are still scrutinizing over a hot pink satin bow blouse in the style named after bows frequently tied around cats’ necks is totally and completely ridiculous.
Have we, as a nation, stooped to a new low by dragging on and on over – dare I say it– a blouse? Have we, as Americans, not learned enough to keep calm, to carry on, and to do something ultimately better on this supposedly progressive day for girls than continuing to add onto a juvenile attempt to perpetuate even more drama over Trump’s recorded remarks? It really is about time we mosey on away from participating in something as demeaning (not to mention undignified and childish) as decoding appearances.
Women working and living in the public sphere today have their wardrobes relentlessly scrutinized enough as it is. Hillary Clinton should know: remember the whole ‘pantsuit’ ordeal? And like it or not, focusing so heavily on the actual meaning of Melania’s clothes is pretty much just as objectifying and misogynistic as what her former reality TV star turned presidential nominee husband is obviously so SO guilty of.
Anne Roiphe once said: “A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears.” Wise words to repeat, learn, and to abide by for sure.
So let’s review again: Love. Peace. Health. Family. Education. Those are some of the things the world needs to be aiming towards; those are the essentials that need to be put closely under a microscopic lens. Take some time today (and every day) to ridicule less, to rise above the rest, and to raise the bar so that young girls everywhere can get exactly what they deserve. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Go on and celebrate #DayoftheGirl!
Unfortunately, presidential elections never seem to draw much attention from the American public, who more often than not, just don’t seem to care all that much about catching a Democratic or Republican primary debate in comparison to something like the NBA playoffs or a Games of Thrones marathon.
Heartbreaking as it may seem, active political participation has never been a particularly favorite pastime in this country. In fact, it’s more of a sore subject, something we kind of sort of just have to deal and go along with as citizens of such a poll booth crazed bundle of united states. Many a times, even important issues such as national security, health care, education, economics, or immigration reform don’t peak our interests in the ways that they should. Those nitty gritty races for an Oval Office seat often don’t either— they just happen to be another one of those trivial governmental races that happen every four years or so.
It hasn’t been all that different this time around. With several national debates already under our belts and POTUS having given his final State Of The Union address recently, election season is in full swing. Yet a recent Pew Research Center survey concludes that though attention to poll numbers has bumped up an ever so slight sixteen percent, the majority of Americans are still not following the race, with a little more than one-fourth really even caring at all.
Like it or not, political action just hasn’t been the thing. It never really has been. That needs to change though, and perhaps the best way to go about this is for us to realize that every vote can indeed make a difference. The under-35 generation is now the largest living generation to date, surpassing baby boomers by far with a whopping 75.4 million and counting.
So what does this all mean? Well, for starters, we’ve been given a luxury and a gift many people in other countries still do not have. So it’s time for us to appreciate that, to take advantage of that. The time is now for the general American public, to start ‘paying attention.’ If change is to be invoked, taking a long hard look at the issues and ‘doing something about them’ is key.
And sure, it may be relatively easy for me (as a mere Millennial) to say this while chomping away on the keys of a MacBook Pro, but really, with the recent Paris and San Bernardino attacks, declining national poverty rates, higher education cutbacks, impending climate disasters, and a whole slew of other life-death issues, it’s pertinent that we band together to examine our radical histories and step into the political spectrum. Here are some of the things we’d like to see our next President (and the U.S. government in general) pay attention to and (finally) address:
We want to flourish, not flounder as an economy.
Oh economics, what woes and troubles you continue to cause us Americans (and not just since the 2008 recession)! Jobs, the minimum wage, paid leave, income inequality, and breaking up big bank corporations—those are just a select few amongst loads of other financial problems we need to fix. Really, things have got to get done if we want to turn our daily focuses away from hefty pocketbook issues and towards more important things in life. Seriously, juggling three jobs and figuring out how to make ends meet is not the way to “live.” For anyone.
Like Baby Boomers and basically every other generation that preceded us, Millennials no doubt want the economy booming, not totally buzzed. As soon as it slows and slurs, companies get leaner and debt because inevitable. And speaking of debt, let’s not even get started on the topic of college affordability and student debt. These could not be more of a stresser, especially for youngins’ like ourselves who are often faced, even when coming into their mid-30s, the consequences of having resorted to student loans back in the day. Plus, there are always those unreasonable and always rising higher education costs that never ever seem to end. Good grief.
We want to sleep soundly again during nights, without our eyes wide open.
Back in 2001, 9/11 instigated some never ending foreign policy, border safety, and basic well-being issues that the U.S. has been constantly embroiled in since most of us can remember. As a naïve middle schooler, I didn’t fully realize the impact of the Twin Tower tragedy until much later. Too much later. But now, with ISIS, the refugee crisis, as well as the recent San Bernardino and Paris attacks, the topic of terrorism has once again reached a tipping point.
Should we be committing and/or deploying ground troops and armed forces to combat the self-proclaimed Islamic State? Should we be accepting refugees from foreign conflicts such as Syria or Central America like our European counterparts? Should we be helping to alleviate extreme poverty in other countries to combat extremism? As of recent weeks, everybody from Donald Trump and Nikki Haley to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have said numerous things about these topics. Obama’s already been blasted for attempting to remove certain refugees via “inhumane” ICE raids earlier this year. There needs to be a solution. Fast. We need to feel safe. Now.
We want to go to school or work without having to worry about being brazed by dozens of bullets.
Columbine was nearly two decades ago. Sandy Hook was several years ago. San Bernardino was just a few months ago. It really seems that all too much violence has been and still is occurring in this country—and all because of guns. Second Amendment or not, actions need desperately to be taken to ensure that we can continue to learn, live, and work in utter peace and quiet. Period.
So please amp up on gun control reform, dear Mr. President—by enforcing stricter gun laws, paying stronger attention to the mental health care system, and requiring universal background checks for all gun purchasers.
We want to live, love and let loose– regardless of the color of our skin– without fearing those dressed in uniform.
As of late, this has become a huge issue. Since when should Americans—White, Black, Hispanic, or Asian—have to be super scared of men carrying shiny badges and guns who supposedly work to protect us as citizens? Sure, cameras may (or may not) help the totally hot-button issue, but really, my friends, it all comes down to one single thing: Racial injustice and how we have to work together to combat that.
We want to thrive without thinking that an imminent Apocalypse will soon be heading our way.
The threat of climate and environmental changes such as global warming has made life so much harder to deal with these days. Really, fearing that it may very well be the end of the world in a decade or two is not the way to spend our days.
It needs to be said though that not enough efforts are being taken to combat this nature-caused crisis we currently find ourselves stuck in. And seriously, if we don’t even have a place to live, there’s no need to worry about anything else, am I right?
So come on folks, it’s time to transition to mostly clean or renewable energy by, let’s say the year 2030, or conserve on all that water and energy we sometimes unknowingly waste to help along the process. As a southern Californian, I know all too well that Mother Nature is begging us to save on that H2O (and electricity!)– brown lawns and shorter showers aside, it’s a must!
We want clean and breathable air.
Face it, smog is bad—not only for hair, skin, nails, and the environment, but even helplessly automobile-dependent human beings who seem to be the very ones causing this dirty old mess. Let’s make some changes this year by putting heavier investments into building buses and railways for nifty transportation options such as carpooling, road sharing, and public transit systems. In the end, it could all add up to less cars, less smog, cleaner air, and more happy people. It’s a win-win.
Last week’s deadly Paris attacks have once again cast a new shadow on America’s long-running debate over immigration and national security (as well as a whole array of other controversial topics). As of Thursday, U.S. lawmakers have halted a program aimed at resettling thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn homeland — a move that potentially complicates President Obama’s Middle East policy efforts.
The newest House bill no doubt reflects upon various shifting sentiments over an issue where emotions have (and continue to) run extremely deep, especially in the aftermath of the terror attacks that occurred in the City of Lights, which killed at least 129 people.
The catastrophic event has placed the topic of refugees fleeing Syria up front and center on Capitol Hill, where leaders from both sides continue to fear that America could face a similar attack. Republican leaders continue to oppose President Obama’s efforts to take in 10,000 more Syrian refugees during the next fiscal year, saying that the resettlement plan not only opens the floodgates to people whose backgrounds have not been fully vetted, but is incredibly loosely tracked and could have the intent of carrying out terrorist acts on American soil.
More than two dozen governors — mostly Republicans— have raised concerns about Syrian refugees relocating to their state arguing that the safety of Americans was at stake after it was discovered that the carnage in Paris was infiltrated by a man who entered Europe with a Syrian passport while posing as a migrant. “This is a moment where it is better to be safe than sorry,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters. He later said at a press conference prior to the House voting: “It’s a security test, not a religious test. This reflects our values. This reflects our responsibilities. And this is urgent.”
Democrats, however, go on defending the plan, saying it is at the core of American values. “We do not have religious tests for our compassion,” said Obama. “That’s not who we are.”
“Slamming the doors in their faces would be a betrayal of our values,” Obama added at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Antalya, Turkey earlier this month. Syrian “refugees are the victims of terrorism.” He also said during his recent visit to the Philippines: “We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic. We don’t make good decisions if it’s based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks.”
The issue no doubt continues to sharply divide party lines– with about 8 in 10 Republicans showing disapproval and nearly two thirds of Democrats supporting the president’s policy. “The fact this vote had bipartisan support makes it much more difficult for the president to say that this is simply about the GOP using the politics of fear to build the opposition to him,” says Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. “The terror attacks have dramatically changed the political dynamics surrounding these issues to the point that, for the time being, it will be difficult for the president to gain much more traction on this issue.”
Among the American general public, the issue is stirring controversy as well. Many are weighing in on the situation, causing a similarly difficult debate on whether or not to allow more migrants fleeing violence into the country. A recent NBC News/SurveyMonkey online poll found that 56% of Americans disapprove, while 41% approve.
Empathy among voters in the U.S. has certainly waned following the horror in Paris. It has also hugely affected us, the Millennial population, a generation known to have various strong values and opinions over social justice issues– such as the current U.S. debate over immigration, refugees, and security.
It’s already been proven that Millenials are more socially aware than previous generations, with digital media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram having allowed for this development. However, the extent with which users of such sites are informed often varies, with reporters using often confusing jargon, leading many of us to question how exactly we should go about addressing these issues.
Despite the campaign rhetoric and the constant noise of a 24-hour news cycle, it was reported that most young people believe the political system is broken, with 83 percent saying they have lost have faith in Congress. Patience among our generation is decreasing and after years of political inaction and failure, Millenials are striving to take crises into their own hands.
From the Occupy movement and Black Lives Matter to the climate justice movement and the immigrant rights movement, our voices continue to capture the attention of the American people. As politicians and the media talk about left versus right, Millennial movements “are moving forward.”
Bob Geldof, singer of of popular Irish band The Boomtown Rats, supports this steadfast march towards change. He issued a somber message this week to Millenials about the responsibilities they now face as the conflict in the Middle East rages and terror attacks blight Europe.
“This generation, your generation, is already stained with blood. Your age group are the killers of Syria. The people your age are murdering people in Beirut, Sharm el Sheikh. And most immediately in our minds right now, those people who went to a pop concert in Paris, who tried to watch a football match, who went out with their girlfriends or their parents for a drink or a coffee, those people were killed by people of your generation,” he said at the One Young World conference in Bangkok, Thailand.
Geldof urged Millennials to put aside beliefs and emotions in the aftermath of recent terror attacks. He went on to criticize young people for not always using the tools available to fully make a difference:
“[The older generation] gave you the mechanism and technology of this century. Right now it is being used for triviality, or seriousness in killing, but not seriousness in thought […] You are the serious generation. Forget the tweeting that’s about bullshit. Tweet about serious things. Go back to your countries, get real with your governments, get the people of your age group to understand precisely what happens. Stop with violence, it doesn’t work. Come back to your country and take action.”
Millennials are not just the future– we are the present. We are at the forefront of the fight for a more just and stable world. If enough of us push together towards a new vision, the world will inevitably begin to move.
Shifting the debate won’t be enough though. Action is needed– action to help, to change, to reshape, and to reform. #ItsOnUs to lead the conversations surrounding immigration (and everything else) towards a better solution. Together, we can either sink or swim and tragedies like the recent carnage in Paris only further remind us that we must indeed keep swimming. To just keep swimming.
I am one of those so-called “anchor babies.” Along with illegal immigration, the term has become one of the buzziest issues of the 2016 presidential election and if going along by strict definition, I– as the first American-born child in my family, am one of those ‘complex issues’ (as the L.A. times so cleverly puts it) the GOP continues to speak about.
As an ABC (American-born Chinese), a young Millennial, a girl who has been fortunate enough to have what many immigrant families would consider a blessed and ideal childhood, such rampant use of the term in current news is quite surprising, not to mention a bit offensive. Of course, I did grow up in Southern California (the king of Chinese ethnoburbs)–around certain areas occasionally deemed as the “Asian Beverly Hills.” Tapioca pearls, Chinese characters, and non-stop use of Chinglish were (and still are) the norm, and thanks to a couple of wildly vocal politicians in the past month, I’m beginning to see that there really is so much more to all of this than I had previously thought.
Just last week, while visiting a local pizza parlor with friends, my eyes and ears caught wind of some jibbing, jabbing, and incessant whispering over at a nearby table. A group of elderly Caucasian couples were glancing disapprovingly in our direction–at me and the several other minorities specifically– within an otherwise diverse group of young adults. Let’s just say that the recent fervor over immigration, undocumented residents, birthright citizenship, and the validity of individuals who were once seen as cute bundles of joy, has now caught my complete attention.
It’s been said again and again that we use our birthright status to manipulate the system into helping out our parents. For what it’s worth, my parents have been permanent legal residents since the late ’80s. My status as an “anchor baby” certainly did not accelerate or change that process, as they applied and became legal permanent residents all on their very own. The same goes for other members of my extended family, who’ve arrived from places as far as Taiwan and China or as close as Canada and England.
Of course, Ronald Reagan’s 1986 amnesty did aid in the naturalization process, but their stories (our stories) aren’t that different from many of the various other Chinese-American families spread out all across the fifty United States. Each and every one have managed– through hard work, personal achievements, painful heartaches, and lots of prayers– to carve out brand spanking new lives in a territory that may have once been unfamiliar, but now, is a place they are proud to call home.
These families are as American as any other group of people under these spacious blue skies, within these amber waves of grain. Undocumented or not, illegal or legal, what does not separate them is the fact that they, like their more fairer-skinned next-door neighbors, have one ultimate desire: to improve their lives as well as the lives of their loved ones.
Like you, me, and everybody else, they share bravery by having given up the known for the unknown. They share a somewhat naïve optimism that the future will indeed be better than the past. They are fully aware that actions often control a person’s destiny, that privilege is not at all a given, and that with the benefits of citizenship comes the responsibility of being American.
Contrary to popular belief, their offspring do not (and cannot) have much to do with their individual journeys towards success, much less qualify them for a lifetime of free government support, as Misters Trump, Bush, and others have so bluntly put it in recent weeks. All they have asked for is the opportunity to work hard and to live free. And they will continue to pay their way, as will you and I.
That being said, it’s pretty safe to assume that all this angst– i.e. the hype surrounding ‘anchor babies’– really has nothing to do with money, or the overcrowding in American schools much less the strain on America’s social safety nets, or any one of the other excuses that have surfaced recently. No, when all is said and done, it all comes down to just one simple thing: Fear.
Whether we want to admit it or not, the dawning of an Anchor Baby nation is near, not to mention inevitable. Multiple studies are already showing that by as soon as 2020, American children will be majority-minority, and unfortunate as it may seem, it is us young ones who seem to be paying a price. We are the easy targets, the go-to scapegoats, and trivial as it may seem, it is Saturday night encounters such as the previously mentioned that make it all the more hurtful.
Obviously, all this doesn’t make me any less American than I already was. And even if my family members were undocumented, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Children should not have to constantly prove their legitimacy nor should they be responsible for justifying past decisions made by their parents. In more ways than one, it only further pulls me away from any sort of identity I continue to try to find. It also unnecessarily polarizes all too many minority Millenials who are aspiring to achieve big dreams, to better the world, to better this nation– our nation– as a whole.
Sure, I am technically not a hundred percent American, but I am also not entirely Chinese, much less an “anchor” that is no longer a baby. I’ve been reminded of that again and again since my early years.
Compared to most Chinese-American kids, I could not have been more ‘wonder-bread white’ and was often chided for my mispronounced Mandarin or inability to grasp (and make proper use of) many of the Eastern traditions my parents had been brought up with. I’m reminded of that to this very day. I am reminded of that awful ‘outsider’ feeling every time some people go about hoping to make America great again by eliminating birthright citizenship.
Needless to say, there is “a lot of variation in the community” and “quite a bit of complicated thinking about where Chinese immigrants fit into the larger racial landscape.” There is no sense “of belonging.” There are perceptions of foreignness as well as “layers and layers of cultural pressure in addition to [other] kinds of pressure, like economic demands.” Let’s not even get started on the intergenerational family issues, “the peer culture, the school culture, the parental home culture, and the general environmental culture.”
As of 2013, there are approximately 20 million in the U.S. sitting in the same boat as I am. We were born to immigrant parents, we are the second generation. We are the only remaining links between past, present, and future. We are a force to be reckoned with. Through culture, love, hope, and change, we have anchored ourselves into American society. So am I an anchor baby? Yes, I believe I am. And though this political mess rages on (and on), I will continue on as one.
But we have all got ourselves a lot to think about.
Personal personal posts aren’t usually my sort of thing. But in light of how special this past summer has been– how incredibly memorable and lesson worthy– I thought I’d make an exception just one special time. Not as much with words, but instead, with an array of photographs, memories, and tiny eye-catching treasures that I hope you’ll find just as beautiful and life-changing as I most certainly did.
For the past month or so, I had the opportunity, not to mention unique honor, of partaking in the annual Midsummer in Oxford Program at the British American Drama Academy (BADA). In association with Yale University’s School of Drama, the Magdalen College held intensive summer conservatory acting program was, at least for me, life-changing and rather significant, completely a monumental experience as an actress, a performer, a writer. Not only was it a literal scoot across the pond, but essentially, a true growing experience as a human being, an all around artist.
All the teary nostalgia aside, below are some images of this unforgettable trip to classical paradise.
For the Theatre Enthusiast:
For the Literature Buff:
For the World Traveler:
For the Adventure Seeker:
For the Daydreamer:
For the silly girl inside all of us:
… And that’s a wrap for London, Oxford, and my very own wet hot British summer! Thank you for everything.
Around this time last year, the twenty or so decades of my academic career came to a bittersweet end as I celebrated my final year of school by skipping down the crowded aisles of USC Annenberg’s Commencement Ceremony 2014 to receive my Master’s degree. It’s hard to believe that a whole other year has already gone by since that scorching hot and especially eventful day. But I’m proud to say that these past twelve months as an official big kid a.k.a first-time/often-very-scared-non-student– though not without its share of difficulties– has been as rewarding and inspiring as I had hoped it would be.
As I continue this brand new chapter in my so-called life, continue penning the pages to my story, I look extremely forward to evolving even more as a writer, a performer, and an all around creative artist.
In honor of grad students everywhere, here are just a few thoughts on academia as a whole. It comes right at the heels of 7 incredibly brave studio arts majors taking a stand and deciding to put an abrupt end to their own educational endeavors. Well, at least with our beloved University of Southern California. Oh, the power of a cohort. Inspiring, indeed!
Vive la révolution! It’s happening … News broke late last week that the entire first year MFA class at USC’s Roski School for Art & Design is leaving the school. For good.
In an official statement released Friday morning, seven studio arts majors listed their grievances as well as their reasons for the unanimous (and inevitable) decision. Shockingly, the announcement came right as the USC 2015 Commencement Ceremony was about to take place– on May 15, 2015– and as a USC alum, a former graduate student and a fellow creative artist, it’s not difficult at all for me to understand the frustrations these students have, as well as rally in full support behind them.
We’re no strangers to the plethora of problems reigning in the world of higher education systems. This act or protest perfectly follows the continuum of adjunct professors (and other members of Academia) trying to make a difference at universities all throughout the country, with events like February’s National Adjunct Professors Walkout Day and last month’s rallying cry by USC adjuncts wanting to unionize. Let’s not even begin to talk about the never-ending poor professor problem or the mountains of student debt too many of us are currently stressing over. Don’t even get me started on my student loans…
A remarkable statement is being made by these magnificent seven, encapsulating the many many issues still lingering in higher education systems and with bloated academic institutions who often take a disregard to certain classes of students, especially in fields like the arts.
French poet, journalist, and 1921 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Anatole France once said,”Nine tenths of education is encouragement.” Well instead of channeling support for students, USC, as well as so many other educational administrations, seem only to be fueling further fire into the already messed-up relationship between universities and their ‘valued’ students, adding only more to the disappointment and feelings of “diminishment” too many have needed (and still need) to face.
“Despite having ultimate power over the program structure and curriculum,” the students write, “our experience has shown that the administration has minimal concern for their students. Meanwhile, faculty voices are silenced and adjunct faculty expands, affecting their overall ability to advocate. [We’ve] lost time, money, and trust in a classic bait-and-switch, and the larger community lost an exemplary funding model that attempted to rectify at least some of these economic disparities. What we experienced is the true “disruption” of this accelerating trend.”
Ironically, the Roski School, which its heavily art, technology, and entrepreneurship-focused syllabi, boldly boasts the tagline, “The Degree is in Disruption.” Oh yeah, things are disrupted alright. More importantly, the lives of several aspiring artists have been forced to take an unneeded detour.
“We each made life-changing decisions to leave jobs and homes in other parts of the country and the world to work with inspiring faculty and, most of all, have the time and space to grow as artists. We trusted the institution to follow through on its promises. Instead, we became devalued pawns in the university’s administrative games […] Because the university refused to honor its promises to us, we are returning to the workforce degree-less and debt-full.”
While the fate of these seven is still unknown at this time, it’s reassuring to know that the larger issues of the corportization of higher education are not and will not rain on their parade. Together, they will hold crits and become even more involved in each other’s works. They will stage a “series of readings, talks, shows, and events at multiple sites throughout the next year,” aiming not to create the perfect or better institution for learning, but to “devising new spaces for collective weirdness and joy.” Because that’s what art is really about, right?!
Monsieur France seems to have gotten it right. Encouragement. Support. Faith. Optimism. Confidence. All of these are vital for an education to prosper. So despite the precarious situation these individuals now find themselves embroiled in, let it be said that there’s no one stopping them from continuing their quest to change the world. Not just the academic, but the creative one as well. The whole wide world.
Well played, my friends. Thank you for your courageousness.
Just a few hours ago, CBS finally let us sink our teeth into an all access first look at its much anticipated new drama from the world of DC Comics. Yet even after this spectacular unveiling— as well numerous other occurrences in the past couple of weeks– our dearly beloved Marvel Studios apparently still doesn’t believe in female superheroes. Surprised? Sadly, not really.
Earlier last week, a leaked email exchange between Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter and Sony Executive Michael Lynton highlighted on–once again– the fact that Marvel’s had a troubled history in terms of being able to properly (and rightfully) represent women in films and in pop culture.
Cases of gender-inequality have been built against the company for years now and recent events (in light of the bombshell Avengers movie opening a couple weeks ago) have not helped seethe away the anger of many comic book fans, not to mention a whole lot of women. In fact, they’ve only added to the already hundreds of critiques mounting against Marvel such as: the lack of estrogen in ensemble casts (female characters are always relegated to the sidelines) or a total lack of female merchandising (star Mark Ruffalo even tweeted directly to the studio urging for more Black Widow merchandise).
Scarlett Johansson recently used Saturday Night Live! as a catalyst to poke fun at Marvel for not capitalizing on her character’s popularity with a fake trailer titled “Age of Me.” Even director Joss Whedon has attributed the utter lack of super heroine movies to “inextricable sexism” and “old-fashioned, quiet misogyny.” The recent comments of Avengers co-stars Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans about Black Widow being a “slut” and a “trick” obviously haven’t helped much either.
Hollywood’s tight embrace on catering to the wants, needs, and feelings of men is no breaking news. For decades now, our little town of so-called Angels has been keeping women out– whether if it’s from the big screen, the director’s chair, the writing room, or from major festivals. Let’s not even begin to discuss the gender wage gap and disparity Tinsel Town finds itself knee deep in.
Women lag absurdly far behind men in basically every single gig in the industry. Jennifer Lawrence knows first hand about this, so does Charlize Theron— both have recently taken great strides to fight this. Patricia Arquette’s made it loud and clear that things gender-wise need to change drastically, as have others like Meryl Streep, Annette Benning, Cate Blanchett, Anna Kenrick, Diablo Cody, Kristin Stewart, and Ava DuVernay. Just earlier today, Ethan Hawke managed to sneak in a little something about the movie business’ awful “boys’ club.”
So what now? Will we ever see a light at the end of this dark tunnel? Will male-centric Hollywood finally start learning how to turn its stubborn head around? Well here are some current news breakers that might just bring some tiny smiles to our faces. I mean, it’s a (slow) start, right?:
A female comic book movie is (finally) happening; Little girls of all ages will soon have a superhero franchise dedicated exclusively to them; Greg Berlanti’s take on Supergirl, as mentioned, is officially coming to the small screen this November, while Wonder Woman is making its way towards the big one in 2017; Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk himself, as well as head honcho Joss Whedon, have come out again and again declaring their full commitment to feminism. As Ruffalo states so matter of factly, “we [just] need more superhuman women.” Oh, and it turns out that movies about women are actually way more profitable. What’s more is that half of Comic-Con attendees are now female. And let’s not forget that women constitute for 52% of the movie-going audience! There’s more…
So, what do you have to say for yourself now, Marvel? It’s about time to start believin’. We are super, we are women, and we are heroes. All by ourselves. Remember that.
Whether in the professional realm or the personal one, men who take charge are usually seen as strong, powerful, prominent, the ultimate man. Women who head the room or ‘wear the pants’ in a relationship don’t have that luxury. We’re lucky to be seen positively at all. In fact, women at the top are shamed, chided, and looked ferociously down upon. In other words, he’s a boss, and she’s, well, a bitch.
It’s there, that double bind– after all these years it really is still wedged deep into cultural stigma. “Success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg often says. Will we ever move past it?
For most of history, there’s been thought that leadership belongs to men, that leaders are men. If– and that’s always a big if– a woman takes the lead, she’s expected to act like a man, make all the same contributions, but still remember to be “feminine enough” in order to be more well-received. Oh, that lovely double bind.
It doesn’t take a genius to know that leadership has yet to be reimagined. In this day and age, it needs to be reassessed, retooled, and recreated for a generation of women and men. Barnard College in New York City– one of the 46 remaining all-women’s colleges in the country — is one of many institutions that are taking this into careful consideration.
AthenaCORE10 has been developed by The Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard as a new initiative to change what leadership can be by looking at core attributes and skills that women need in order to be successful leaders. Vision, ambition, courage, entrepreneurial spirit, resilience, communication, leverage, collaboration, negotiation and advocacy are just some of the attributes being taught. It’s not just about altering cultural perception anymore, it’s about developing an innovative way of helping us, as women, get there. “We talk a lot about changing the capacity of women to lead, and changing the culture…” says Kathryn Kolbert, Director of the Athena Center for Leadership Studies. “Both things have to happen simultaneously.”
Kolbert’s not the first to say this, and she definitely won’t be the last. So while on this topic of leadership, I am glad, so very glad— after the progress our country made in 2008 when appointing Barack Obama as President– that we are once again starting to trek up a brighter path. We are taking another step towards simultaneously abolishing that nasty double bind.
Last Sunday, Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy for the 2016 Presidential Race:
“I’m running for president,” Clinton says towards the end of the video, with a promise to be a “champion” for “everyday” Americans. “I want to be [your] champion, so you can do more than just get by. You can get ahead and stay ahead.”
Well, it’s about time someone other than a He took hold of the reins, so get ready America! The evidence is already there. When more women are leaders, society’s view of how leaders operate and what they look like can significantly change for the better. When more women are leaders, communities are more productive and successful. A new global study even shows that when women (and Millenials!) lead, big things tend to follow.
And, of course, when more women are leaders, we are able to raise the aspirations of women and girls all around the world. So many thanks, Hillary. We are ready for you Madam President.
So by now, we’ve all heard, seen, ranted, and raved about Patricia Arquette’s rally cry for women this past Oscar Sunday. The Boyhood starlet finally got to add a famed golden statuette to her already impressive shelf of acting accolades and after thanking a vast variety of people including her fellow nominees, her parents, her boyfriend, and “favorite painter” Eric White, the Academy’s newly appointed Best Supporting Actress eased right into a poignant bit about gender equality.
“TO EVERY WOMAN WHO GAVE BIRTH, TO EVERY TAXPAYER AND CITIZEN OF THIS NATION, WE HAVE FOUGHT FOR EVERYBODY ELSE’S EQUAL RIGHTS. IT’S OUR TIME TO HAVE WAGE EQUALITY ONCE AND FOR ALL, AND EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WOMEN IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.”
It was short, it was sweet, and unsurprisingly, it resonated with women in the audience and women at home– women everywhere. It brought Meryl Streep to her feet, it caused Jennifer Lopez to shout in delight. It was truly a phenomenal occurrence that outshine any other tweet-worthy moment from this year’s star-studded Hollywood ceremony.
Backstage in the press room, Arquette delved even deeper:
“It’s time for women. Equal means equal. The truth is the older women get, the less money they make. The highest percentage of children living in poverty are in female-headed households. It’s inexcusable that we go around the world and we talk about equal rights for women in other countries and we don’t,” she said. “It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”
Yes, it is our time. Now. It has and probably should have been starting a long (long) time ago. As a nation, we’ve come so far in terms of race, sex, religion, you name it. Yet besides successfully combatting a few political, social, and cultural inequalities over the years, nothing entirely spectacular has occurred in the name of women’s rights since the 1920 ratification of the 19th amendment– and that was ninety-five years ago. Progress? I think not.
To this day, a wage gap still exists and needs desperately to be closed. According to the White House, full-time working women earn just 77% of what their male counterparts earn. Thanks to the recent Sony hack, we are similarly reminded (time and time again) of the discrepancies between male and female salaries that occur even in such a ‘liberal’ industry as film and television. Let’s just state the obvious: systematic gender discrimination is engrained in our society. And that needs to change.
So thank you, Ms. Arquette for your proverbial message, for your wise words. As a woman in the entertainment industry, as a woman in America, as a woman in general… I wholeheartedly agree.
Our. Time. Has. Come. Enough said.
#OscarSoWhite. That’s the controversial hashtag that has been trending over the past couple of days since Thursday morning’s diversity-stricken announcement of the 2015 Academy Award nominations.
Given that this is Hollywood, I’m sad to say that this isn’t too surprising. As Chris Rock can tell you, there are far too few people of color in the entertainment industry– and let’s not even begin to mention the gender inequality that’s been present since God knows when. But for a while there, there seems to have been a sliver of hope for the growing number of minorities in the movie-making biz.
Last year’s Oscars were a banner year with 12 Years a Slave taking home the award for Best Picture and newcomer Lupita Nyong’o winning for Best Supporting Actress. Mexican film director Alfonso Cuaron was also recognized for his production Gravity. Rewind back several years and we can remember Taiwanese director Ang Lee’s not one, but two, Best Director wins for Brokeback Mountain and Life of Pi. Actors Forest Whitaker, Denzel Washington, and Javier Bardem have all garnered Oscar nods (and wins), as have actresses such as Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Hailee Steinfeld, and of course, Nyong’o. For over two decades, every year preceding 2014 has had at least one non-white person nominated in the four acting categories.
So yes, performance-wise, this will be a particularly pale year for the Oscars– the whitest since 1998. Instead of progress, the general consensus is that we’re regressing further and further back.
What’s particularly frustrating is that we have, at least in another part of the industry, seen great strides being made towards racial and gender equality– especially in the last year. In the wonderful world of television, it’s been all about diversity, with numerous programs like How To Get Away With Murder, Cristela, Black-ish, Empire, and the upcoming midseason entry Fresh Off The Boat (the first Asian-American sitcom since Margaret Cho’s All American Girl twenty years ago). Oh, and just last week, Gina Rodriguez made headlines with her truly unexpected Golden Globes win– a first for The CW. NBD, right? Um, huge deal!
Major and cable networks alike have all begun to embrace the melting pot that is America and it’s been more than refreshing to see a drastic increase in cultural representation come so fully to life. In a moving and memorable acceptance speech, Rodriguez pretty much sums up how these advances have caused a ripple effect of positive change that’s “needed, especially in a time when we have a society that is so diverse and so beautiful and so human.”
“Thank you God for making me an artist … um … [tears, gasps, applause] … This award is so much more than myself, it represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes. My father used to tell me every day to say, ‘Today’s a great morning; I can and I will. Oh, Dad, today’s a great morning — I can, and I did.”
Yes, she absolutely did. And for the most part, the small screen has done incredible things to progress towards diversity. In 2013, a record number of Emmy nods were given to women directors. And though the actual DGA statistics detailing women working as directors in television remain stubbornly, infuriatingly low, it’s safe to say that there are quite a few impressive examples of femmes calling the shots in TV.
So why can’t good old Tinseltown continue to do the same? That’s a question we’d all like to ask.